Home Expat Blogs Cultural Differences in the Time of Covid in San Miguel de Allende

Cultural Differences in the Time of Covid in San Miguel de Allende

Credits: Sergey Mugashev | Adobe Stock images

The ongoing pandemic has surfaced for me cultural differences in the time of Covid in San Miguel de Allende between the Mexican people and the local expat community.

One of the things I like most about Mexico is that most of the Mexican people have separate business and personal emails, often phone numbers as well.  It is not unusual for business emails to not be read after 6 p.m. on weekends, while on vacations and over Christmas or Easter.

Perhaps it will surprise you that what I like least about life in Mexico is the very same!   I deeply admire the ability of Mexicans, even at very high levels of business and government, to not read their email during the periods mentioned above, but I do find it incredibly infuriating.  If you work with me, you may well receive an email response at 2:17 a.m. or late Sunday afternoon.

Observing the Covid situation has provided some similar insights into Mexican culture.  In San Miguel, mask compliance has been very high, something I wouldn’t have guessed. Social gatherings and church attendance also have generally followed rules about social distancing, washing hands, avoiding contact and other precautions.

States in Mexico have had different regulations, so in some states religious services, including weddings, have been outlawed and drones have been used to ferret out secret worshipers. How the Romans must be clapping from their graves and the Christians thinking what a good idea those catacombs were. Overall, conflict levels have been very, very low here, especially in comparison with the U.S. where cell phones and security cameras have recorded Americans at our very worst, again.

From my observations, what cultural conflict there has been in San Miguel has been driven mostly by some more affluent Americans who I believe have denied their Mexican employees the ability to feed their families.  In many cases, long-time employees were let go when the virus began because their employers feared the humble neighborhoods and bus rides of their employees would bring the virus to them. There have been some who have paid their employees to stay home, which I admire greatly, but they are a very small minority, as far as I can tell.

As my mother said regularly, “It takes all kinds” and it does. We now know that that many American expats in San Miguel are that kind. At a time they should have been empathetic and caring, they thought only of themselves.

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Ben Pitre
Ben Pitre has worked in real estate for decades as a builder, renovator, sub-divider and syndicator in the U.S. and San Miguel de Allende. He has also been a long-term residential and industrial landlord. He is almost certainly the only real estate agent in San Miguel who has both demonstrated Japanese flower arrangements for the San Miguel Garden Club and fought in public boxing exhibitions (4-0). Ben is an agent with 1st International Realty and can be reached at benpitre@gmail.com.


  1. After reading your post all the way through, I’m left confused as to what your point of view actually is regarding cultural differences. Are you in favor of drones ferreting out secret worshippers? And what were the Romans clapping about exactly? The only thing that came through loud and clear from your post was your unabashed self-righteousness.

  2. I think Romans would have loved ferreting out Christians with drones, I do not. There are cultural differences and most often I find the point of view more appealing here. I am sorry to see expats take advantage of locals especially given how welcoming natives are to ex-pats.

  3. Why is it an Expats duty to support Mexican citizens when their own government, which they’ve elected, fails to support them. Jobs come and go, for a variety of reasons, yet Mexico has little to no unemployment insurance, and their beloved AMLO is all about austerity, and has offered up no significant economic recovery at all. What does it say about a culture that’s not willing to offer or demand basic social and economic support?


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